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DPUK researchers will be working with Cognetivity Neurosciences to monitor the cognition of people at risk of dementia using smartphones.

Smartphone resting on a notebook.

The study will offer further insight into the potential of Cognetivity's digital Integrated Cognitive Assessment (ICA) tool to enhance early-stage dementia diagnosis.

Participants will be recruited from DPUK's Great Minds register of study volunteers.

Although dementia is the leading cause of death in England and Wales, its development remains poorly understood and, with traditional cognitive testing methods, patients rarely manage to obtain a diagnosis early enough to receive the maximal benefits of treatment. This study aims to break new ground, using remote, smartphone-based assessment with a view to measuring cognitive decline associated with the earliest stages of disease. In the study, researchers intend to recruit cognitively healthy participants aged 50 and up who may be at risk of cognitive impairment or who are subjectively concerned about their cognition.

The study will be led by DPUK researcher Dr Ivan Koychev, a senior clinical researcher and specialist consultant neuropsychiatrist at Oxford University and the National Health Service. He said: 'Dementia is one of the biggest healthcare challenges facing our generation. We now know that the process leading to it starts 15-20 years before symptoms. The healthcare system is not geared up to identify the individuals in its preclinical stages, and that is why we are looking to digital technology as a scalable means to point to dementia risk.

'Cognetivity's ICA has great potential to contribute to this. With its unique approach to cognitive testing, it could pave the way for accurate, early-stage dementia diagnosis that, through remote assessment, is in line with what is required for the future of clinical practice and increases accessibility, particularly among populations under-represented in research studies and also COVID-19 affected populations.'

Dr Sina Habibi, CEO of Cognetivity, said: 'It's not hard to see how this kind of testing could revolutionise patient care. If a tool such as the ICA were available to the millions of people who are at risk, or belong to the so-called "worried well", to be able to regularly and accurately check up on their cognition, there would be many more healthy individuals feeling reassured and many more people with dementia accessing treatment as early as possible – a fantastic result. At the same time, the healthcare system would benefit from the cost savings associated with a reduction in unnecessary, in-person cognitive assessments. As ever, the prospect of empowering clinical excellence is what is motivating us as we join forces with Oxford and DPUK in carrying out this research.'